We all face periods of uncertainty and stress in our lives and that can negatively impact our mental health. This is really common and is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s important to pay attention to your feelings and to practice behaviors that support a healthy body and mind.
We’ve put together a helpful guide to looking after mental health, whether you’re a parent or child. Good mental health is all about understanding your feelings and giving them the time and attention that they deserve. It’s also about practicing key behaviors that support a happy and healthy life.
In difficult times, you have a toolkit at your disposal; there’s a lot you can do to stay positive and and feeling emotionally well.
Top 5 Mental Health-Boosting Activities for Children
Explore your hobbies: Let your creativity shine by painting, working on puzzles, playing games or practicing an instrument. Explore whatever interests you most.
Be active: Make sure you get plenty of exercise. If you have access to a garden or nearby park, play there with your family and friends. Soccer, hide & seek, tag and running races are great options.
Stay connected: Send emails, texts and letters to your friends and family. Chat on the phone or FaceTime and Skype them, too! Connecting with people and expressing yourself is a vital key to good mental health.
Set yourself media limits: While it’s great to stay connected via social media, too much time online can make you feel down. Limit your time spent on social media. You can set your phone to remind you when you’ve gone over a certain number of hours on an app per day.
Talk about your feelings: Try to be open about how you feel on any given day. If something is on your mind, share that with a trusted friend or family member.
Recharging for Parents
Make time for yourself: Carving out time for yourself is always hard. Make sure you get some alone time; take a shower or bath, walk around the block or take the dog for a walk. Even zoning out in front of the TV counts!
Eat well and exercise: An early-morning run or at-home exercises can be great for recharging. Get enough sleep and eat healthy, nutritious food.
Be kind to yourself: Perfectionism during uncertain and difficult times is a recipe for disaster. Realize that there’s no right way to do this and be gentle and forgiving with yourself and your kids.
Set boundaries: We frequently read or hear negative news stories or less-than-positive messages. Let your friends and family know that you’re here for them, but that you’re taking a break from negative news and messaging. Try checking your phone less or muting chats.
Communication Hints and Tips
Communication is key to helping your child deal with stressful situations. Here are some key tips for creating authentic and loving dialogue between children and parents.
Don’t push too hard: It’s a conversation, not an interrogation. Encourage your child to want to open up to you.
Reciprocate: Tell them how you feel, too. This creates open dialogue. Be natural: Talk while engaging in an activity like baking or playing a game. This keeps things light and natural.
Validate: You can validate your child’s feelings by expressing empathy and sympathy. Let them know that you understand.
Don’t judge: Try putting yourself in your child’s shoes. Make an effort not to judge what they say.
Repeat their feelings back to them: This confirms to them that you understand their feelings. It ensures that they feel heard.
Let them know you’re here: Letting your child know that you’re available if they ever need to talk:this helps them feel understood and accepted.
Uncertain circumstances and situations cause a disruption to everyone’s daily lives. Having tips on hand that teach you how to handle these disruptions can help to make sure that you and your family continue to thrive. For more resources, please visit www.aisgz.org/covid-19.